Ghastly Games with Daphne Strasert: Remnants

Well, we did it. We finally destroyed the world.

The Apocalypse has come and gone and here you are in charge of your very own survivor compound. You’ll need to brave the Badlands to gather resources, buy equipment for your camp, and fend off attacks from monsters.

Remnants is a game for 2-4 players and takes about an hour to play.

Game Play

In Remnants, players each control a camp of survivors. The goal is to keep as many survivors alive as possible while fending off attacks from monsters and raiders in the Badlands.

Each round has five phases:

  • Scavenge: send survivors from the camp to gather resources. Players face each other in a real-time dice-rolling race to gather available resources.
  • Build: Spend resources to buy weapons and defenses for your camp. You’ll need them to fight the bad guys later on.
  • Fight: Various monsters and raiders come to attack your compound. Players use the items they purchased to fight back. If you defeat the monster, you get points that count toward victory at the end of the game.
  • Heal: You can spend more resources to heal the survivors hurt in the attacks. Only healthy survivors get you points at the end of the game.
  • Clean-up: Reallocate spent resources to the board and start the whole process over again.

There are only 6 rounds in the game, so make the most of every opportunity.

Game Experience

The mechanics of Remnants were familiar (the Build and Fight phases were reminiscent of King of Tokyo), but worked together in unexpected ways. There was the perfect balance of luck and skill to keep gameplay interesting.

Players mostly play on their own compound, facing challenges individually. There aren’t many opportunities to sabotage other players. It’s unfortunate that the game isn’t made to accommodate more players.

One weakness I found while playing was that an early initial round of bad luck can seriously cripple a player for the rest of the game. It would be nice if there were more room to bounce back.

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed Remnants. It was the unexpected breakout hit for my board game night group. The game has high replay value, but would also benefit from manufacturer expansions.

For those who enjoy more complicated games, I would whole-heartedly recommend this.

Ghastly Games with Daphne Strasert: Ultimate Werewolf Inquisition

A remote village is infested with werewolves. Unable to solve the problem themselves, the villagers call upon a special inquisitorial team to root out the monsters. There’s only one problem: some of the inquisitors are werewolves in disguise…

Ultimate Werewolf Inquisition was created by Dan Hoffman, the man behind One Night Ultimate Werewolf (which I’ve previously reviewed here on HorrorAddicts.net). It’s a standalone game of treachery, deduction, and deceit.

Ultimate Werewolf Inquisition is a game for 3-12 players and takes 30-60 minutes to play.Ultimate Werewolf Inquisition

Game Play

Players play as the inquisitors called to save the town. Each player is given a secret card that designates them either as a werewolf or a human.

The village consists of twelve villager cards (face down) and twelve hut cards (face up). The huts grant special powers to help the inquisitors identify which of the villager cards represent werewolves. On their turn, each inquisitor chooses a hut card and plays the associated power (see a facedown card, see an inquisitor’s card, gain vote tokens, or cast vote tokens). Then each inquisitor casts a vote on one of the villager cards. The villager card with the most votes is revealed and removed from the game (along with their associated hut).

Then night falls and the werewolves are free to take revenge. The inquisitors pass around a column of cards. Villagers don’t look, but the inquisitorial werewolves do and rearrange the cards to their liking. At the end of the round, the cards are placed back in the village and the last card is revealed and removed from the game (another victim of the werewolves).

The game ends when all the werewolves in the village are dead (the villagers win) or when the werewolves left outnumber the villagers (the werewolves win).

Game Experience

Ultimate Werewolf Inquisition combines the best parts of playing Mafia (the card game) and One Night Ultimate Werewolf. Players have multiple rounds in which to sniff out the traitors, with the game becoming more difficult as play continues. But no players are removed, so everyone remains engaged through the whole play time. Special abilities ensure that gameplay isn’t just guesswork.

Every game that we played ended with a very narrow result. There is no clear advantage or disadvantage to either side, making the competition fierce. The better your friends are at lying, the more dynamic the game will become. Logic gets twisted, relationships are tested, and no one is ever sure who they can trust.

Final Thoughts

The rules don’t take long to learn and aren’t overly complicated (if you’re playing with a crowd that isn’t dedicated to hours of play). I enjoyed Ultimate Werewolf Inquisition very much and I recommend it as a mid-level difficulty game.

Ghastly Games: Gloomhaven

Game Review: Gloomhaven

Beware, casual game player; Gloomhaven is not for the faint of heart.

As a player, you enter the fantasy world of Gloomhaven, where the hallways are dim, the monsters terrifying, and the stakes higher than your life.

Gloomhaven is a roleplaying game for 1-4 players and takes between 1 and 2 hours to play.

Gloomhaven plays very much like a campaign of Dungeons and Dragons. That’s the point, of course.

First, players choose a pre-made character. Choose wisely, because you will be growing with this persona through many encounters to come. As you defeat enemies, your characters gain experience, opening them up to new abilities.

The game’s rules act as the Dungeon Master, guiding your group through an encounter to defeat the enemy and collect the treasure. Attacks do damage, both to you and opponents. Your team will need to survive this in order to get the treasure that is your ultimate reward.

If you’ve ever played Dungeons and Dragons, the play style will feel familiar. All players have hit points that track their health. The characters and antagonists take turns moving and making attacks. Each player has a number of attacks and movements that they can use, represented on cards. Players must rest in order to reuse cards.

Gloomhaven is complicated. I can’t really do it justice in just this article. You’ll have to consult the rule book for that. Those who have played RPGs before will find the process familiar, but it still requires some adjustments. If you’re playing with newbies, just know that the time required to explain rules is nontrivial.

Whether you enjoy this game really depends on what sort of gameplay you enjoy. If you like the combat portion of role playing, then Gloomhaven will be hours of fun for you. If that sort of thing isn’t really your cup of tea, then you’ll likely find the game tedious.

Gloomhaven is complicated. Gloomhaven is intellectually involved. Gloomhaven is… a ton of fun. If you enjoy immersive role-playing games—specifically the combat experience—then Gloomhaven is really the game for you.

Ghastly Games with Daphne Strasert: Werebeasts

Game Review: WereBeasts

Introduction

Do you love werewolves? Do you wish you had a game with more than just werewolves? There’s a whole world of crazy beasts out there. Werekittens, wereclowns, werezombies, weresharks, wereghosts, werehouses… Excellent.

Werebeasts is a card collecting party game for 3-10 players and takes about fifteen minutes to play.

Game Play

At the beginning, each player is secretly given two goal cards. These are the werebeasts that they will try to collect throughout the game.

During their turn, a player can accuse another player of having a specific goal card. If they guess correctly, the other is removed from the game and the player get their cards. Guess carefully, however, because if you’re wrong, you are removed from the game and the accused get your cards.

After leveraging their accusations (if any), the player then draws a card face up. Other players bid on the card using the cards in front of them. Players try to collect their assigned goals without giving away what their goals are.

Whoever has the most beasts of their goal type when the game ends wins.

Game Experience

Werebeasts is suited to younger players as a card collection game. It is also good for older audiences who want a simple party game.

You would think that it would be easy to guess what others are trying to collect. Not so. Once players know what to look for, they know how to cover their tracks. The secret to Werebeasts is to know the other players. The dynamic changes over time, making Werebeasts an increasingly difficult game of bluffs.

Werebeasts has a simple set up, with a few sets of cards and pieces. All of these are well made and exceptionally detailed. The cards are sturdy and would stand up well to a lot of play time (including by children). The art style suits the game premise, as a cross between cartoon-cute and mock horror.

Final Thoughts

Werebeasts is a good party game for a large crowd. It is a fast, easy game to learn. I thought that it would be overly simplistic, but it was surprisingly engaging.

Ghastly Games by Daphne Strasert: Elder Sign

Game Review: Elder Sign

The artifacts in the museum are more than they seem. The collection is opening barriers between our world and other dimensions where an ancient evil lurks, waiting to cross over.

Elder Sign uses the universe of H.P. Lovecraft to create a brilliant atmosphere of supernatural suspense and adventure. Players form a team of investigators trying to prevent an Ancient One from crossing into our world. They do this by collecting Elder Signs and defeating smaller monsters throughout the museum. Players can gain items and powers that aid in this and work together toward success. Failure brings the Ancient One closer to unleashing its wrath on humanity.

Elder Sign is a cooperative dice game for 1-8 players and takes about 90 minutes to play.

Game Play

Before play starts, the players choose an Ancient One to battle in the coming game. Each has a different power that makes gameplay more interesting. Some are more difficult to defeat than others. Players also choose characters. These also have special abilities that give them an advantage in certain encounters.

Throughout the game, characters attempt tasks to succeed in Adventures and gain rewards. Some of these rewards are Elder Signs, which are used to seal away the Ancient One before it can cross over into our world. But beware, failure has dire consequences and can bring the monster even closer.

All the while, time ticks forward, bringing the Ancient One closer to our world. Strange events happen every midnight that make gameplay harder. If players fail to seal the Ancient One, they must fight it in a nearly impossible, last-ditch battle for humanity.

Game Experience

Elder Sign is beautiful. The art is in a lovely dark fantasy style that is perfect for the Lovecraft mythos that it represents. Symbols use are straightforward and easily identified, which is a benefit in complicated gameplay. Each Adventure card has a snippet of a story on it, giving insight into the perilous world of the museum. Reading these bits was an enchanting part of the game.

Despite appearing extremely complicated, Elder Sign is actually straightforward. There is some work in learning the game mechanics, but once you have a handle on that, play runs smoothly. I recommend taking the time to familiarize yourself with the manual before starting and allocate extra time for your first playthrough. Once you have the hang of it, though, you will be able to play many more times.

A benefit of Elder Sign is that the game is actually winnable. Some cooperative games (like Dead Men Tell No Tales, which we also reviewed here at Horror Addicts) are nearly impossible to defeat. Players can succeed in Elder Sign, provided they put thought and strategy into their gameplay and have reasonable luck with dice. It isn’t a guaranteed win, by any means, but players can expect a reasonable return for their effort.

Final Thoughts

What I liked best about Elder Sign (and I liked a lot of things about Elder Sign) was how re-playable it was. There are a variety of Ancient Ones to fight against, but even without that, the different adventures, characters, and items change gameplay significantly. Each game experience is unique. This is a game that I would consider well worth the money to add to my own collection.

Ghastly Games by Daphne Strasert: T.I.M.E. Stories

Game Review: T.I.M.E. Stories

Something awful is happening at the asylum. Patients disappear and frightening creatures appear on the grounds. You and your team are time travelers sent to investigate the cause of the strange events.

T.I.M.E. Stories sits at the intersection of science fiction and fantasy, but it’s no kids’ game. Violence and horror lurk behind every decision. At the core of the game is a mystery that must be solved in order to win and save yourselves.

T.I.M.E. Stories is a cooperative narrative board game for 2-4 players and takes between two and four hours to play.

Game Play

T.I.M.E. Stories works much like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book (or, more appropriately, for Horror Addicts, the “Give Yourself Goosebumps” books by R.L. Stine).

Players begin by choosing their characters. Each has strengths and weaknesses which will affect how you play the game. Some scenarios call for brute strength while others would benefit from a silver tongue. Be careful, though; you’re inhabiting the body of a lunatic, so there are some quirks and traps in each character’s behavior (some can’t be left alone, some can’t deliver a killing blow in combat).

To play, the team explores rooms, discovers items, and talks to characters. What you do affects what happens immediately in the game—offering more rooms to explore and more information about what is going on—but some effects will last much longer. This all happens on a time crunch and the longer you take, the more likely your team will have to start all over again (you are a time traveler after all).

The team wins when they solve the mystery and successfully

Game Experience

T.I.M.E. Stories is definitely a story game. There are elements of game play (combat and challenges), but for the most part, the team doesn’t “win” or “lose”. Players don’t defeat each other and the game never really beats the players. The fun is in making decisions and discovering the story along the way.

Since the majority of the base game is themed around a 1920’s asylum, the atmosphere is heavily horror related (with monsters, lunatics, and mad doctors). The art reinforces this. It is stunning and gruesome in equal measure, perfect for the story. The mystery itself is soaked in blood.

The game is nominally themed as science fiction, which allows you to expand the game (with other stories in new locations) and to keep playing a game that might otherwise be too hard (by restarting when all players die). However, while playing, you are immersed in the world of the story (the asylum), so, the science fiction elements become jarring when they are reintroduced.

This adds to T.I.M.E. Stories‘ complexity. This game isn’t for people new to board games or the faint of heart. There are a lot of pieces and parts to game play. The board, while beautiful, is not immediately easy to understand. If you wish to play, either find a veteran to explain or take the time to familiarize yourself with the manual.

Final Thoughts

While T.I.M.E. Stories was a fun and interesting game, the truth is, it isn’t a game you can play over and over. Unlike a “Give Yourself Goosebumps”, the story here has a definite path to follow and does not diverge greatly. There is only one major story included and once you’ve figured that out, the game loses its appeal. You already know the twists and ending. Given that most of the fun of the game is in exploring and discovering what is going on, that’s a big disadvantage.

There are seven expansion packs for T.I.M.E. Stories, so you can play some different stories, but from an investment point of view, it isn’t cost effective to buy. If you really want to experience this game (and I do recommend playing), visit a board game café that has T.I.M.E. Stories and its expansions.

Ghastly Games by Daphne Strasert: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Game Review: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Who doesn’t love pirates? Who doesn’t love undead pirates even more?

In Dead Men Tell No Tales, players take on the characters of a pirate crew and work together to plunder a burning ship, the notorious Skelit’s Revenge. They must defeat the undead crew, find the treasure, and fight the fire to stay alive. Do you have what it takes to survive and win?

Dead Men Tell No Tales is a thematic cooperative board game for 2-5 players and takes about 90 minutes to play.

Game Play

First, choose a character. All characters have different abilities that will help during play (extra speed, fighting power, rum capacity, etc.). Next, board the Skelit’s Revenge and start looking for treasure. You explore the ship, finding new rooms and revealing new obstacles.

Oh, and all the rooms are on fire.

You take damage when exposed to the flames, so as you explore, you’ll need to take time to rest your character—valuable time that could be used fighting the Skelit’s crew. Defeat the crew to find the treasure. Find all the treasure and get it back to your boat to win. Be warned, the fire gets worse and the enemies increase with every turn, so winning won’t be easy.

Game Experience

The game quality is very high. There are many pieces, but each is crafted with either hardy cardboard or wood. All character pieces are exquisitely decorated with detailed fantasy art that fits with the theme. The well-made setup makes the game a physical joy to play.

As far as gameplay, Dead Men Tell No Tales is complicated. There are a lot of things happening at once and it will take a few tries to really get a handle on what strategies work. I have never actually won a game of Dead Men Tell No Tales (and we’ve been playing on easy mode). There is a lot going on; between character powers, monster moves, a raging fire, and explosions, you can lose track of what danger is most immediately threatening.

There are many ways to lose, but only one way to win. There’s some serious strategy involved in playing and I cannot emphasize enough that the game is cooperative. You are working together as a team so—depending on who you choose to play with—you may not feel as if you’re making any of your own decisions at all.

As much as I emphasize the difficulty, the game is fun. I promise. Dead Men Tell No Tales is all about moves, finding the best thing to do from a long list of possibilities. But it isn’t just pure strategy either—luck is just another skill in a pirate’s arsenal.

Final Thoughts

Dead Men Tell No Tales is a good game for those who like a challenge and have experience playing complicated games. There are a lot of moving pieces. This isn’t Chutes and Ladders; no one wins for just showing up. You’ll want your wits about you (so, not a great game for drinking) and every move has potentially dire consequences (so, not a great game for children). If you really think you have what it takes to take on the challenge, look no further.